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US Policy and the Iraq Time Bomb
Prof. Dr. Hüseyin BAĞCI – 25 March 2002, Turkish News
When Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote his three consecutive articles in the National Interest in 2000 under the titles ‘Living with a New Russia,’ ‘Living with a New China,’ and ‘Living with a New Europa’ he was actually setting the new imperatives for U.S. foreign policy on how to deal with ‘those NEW power centers’ in a new security environment.
As one of the most well known and influential strategists in the United States together with Henry Kissinger during the Cold War years and in the post-Cold War period, Zbigniew Brzezinski appears now right in his definition of the hegemon United States, the likes of which history has never before experienced. Indeed, when Henry Kissinger published an article just a few months before Sept. 11, 2001, with the title ‘Does America need a Foreign Policy,’ he created many discussions as to the first signs of an anti-American coalition of some of the great powers starting to emerge. China, Russia, the European Union and India seem not to be very happy with U.S. conduct of international politics.
As the ‘exceptional hegemon’ in the new world order, the United States is recognizing terrorism as a global threat and finds it necessary to fight it with every means. It believes that liberal democracies are challenged by terrorism and terrorism must be fought on a global scale alone or with an ‘international coalition.’ Of course, the United States needs a global coalition to fight terrorism and this is why President Bush is sending Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to different parts of the globe to seek allies. It is not the year 1945 or 1989, or even 1991; Sept. 11 was a turning point where Henry Kissinger’s question can be answered. The United States needs a foreign policy, and this will be not easy.
Euroasia is the future of international politics. The security of the Eurasian landmass is solely America’s responsibility according to the U.S. administration. Indeed, Eurasia is the future, but poverty in Asia is the biggest challenge for all international actors. Usama bin Laden and his al-Qaida is only one among the expected challenges to the international and global order. To define some countries as ‘the axis of evil’ does not solve the problem. Look at what Russia, China and India have done following Sept. 11. None of them can openly take an anti-American position, therefore, they do not stress that the United States is doing wrong. China in particular is on good terms with the United States because China is bowling from inside [sic]. Unemployment is a big problem for all the countries in Asia and if China has bad news to spread that means it is bad for all the others too. How to contain China is indeed an ‘American problem’ now. Russia is also unhappy with the American presence in Central Asia and the Caucasus but has to appease the United States, like Britain and France did to Germany before World War II. Russia’s new alliance with China and India is a tactical one and Russia will further impose its policies over Eurasian just as before, though it will be not so easy.
Russia’s view that ‘failed states are not necessarily rouge states’ is important because Russia supports Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Therefore, Russia is not alone in this case. The EU is also having similar views and in particular in the last few years EU countries follow more and more ‘pro-Arab policies.’ The result is that Russia is more and more a reliable partner for the EU in global politics and no doubt the U.S. administration is not happy with this. In particular, French Foreign Minister Huber Vedrin leads this view and the gap between the United States and the EU on the definition of the meaning of international terrorism is widening and NATO has already been declared a ‘corpse.’ NATO enlargement has also lost speed and this will create some new discussions in Europe in November when NATO enlargement will be the main issue at the Prague summit.
Within this global context, discussions in Turkey on EU membership and the U.S. search for an international coalition dominated the political agenda over the last few weeks. Indeed, the ‘anti-EU block’ in Turkey gets intellectual support from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose book will be published in April. In her book, as some excerpts were published in several newspapers, she favors more U.S.-oriented policy than the EU and sees the EU as a ‘vanity of intellectuals.’ In her words, the EU is finished and will not be successful. No doubt, this view will be very much used in Turkey for domestic consumption and Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yılmaz will face stronger opposition. The different views of the Motherland Party (ANAP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) also prove that the coalition is still not harmonious and Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit is barely managing the existence of the coalition. The good old days for the coalition are over.
The visit of U.S. Vice President Cheney also showed that Turkey is part of U.S. global politics and the United States in security issues is more reliable than the EU. The meeting between Cheney and the Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Kıvrıkoğlu with Foreign Minister İsmail Cem and State Undersecretary Uğur Ziyal is a unique one and it shows what the United States is interested in.
Turkey is a key country for any U.S. intervention in Iraq and Turkey’s many interests are at stake and Turkey cannot remain indifferent to regional developments. Cheney left Turkey with a positive view, leaving behind it ‘a reliable ally’ in regional and global politics. The Turkish government’s view that it is against U.S. intervention in Iraq is not so important! None of the 11 other countries that Cheney visited also said yes but this ‘no’ means yes if the United States intervenes. Which country or countries can prevent it? Obviously none.
It was a fact-finding tour to tell countries what the United States is intending to do. It was not asking for their permission for such an operation. Next week, the conference in Lebanon of the Arab League will take place and let’s see what will come out of it. U.S. policy is this time very different from the Cold War and Iraq has limited time to meet the expectations of the United Nations. Saddam Hussein and Iraq have gained time, but how long it can go on like this an open question. There is a time bomb in the Middle East and it is ticking faster than ever.